A book review: Present Over Perfect


Reading has been a pastime I’ve thoroughly enjoyed since I was a child, although I haven’t made time to read enough over the last few years. With plenty of time on my hands since the accident, I’ve made my way back to it. Of course, with a concussion I can’t physically read books. Thank goodness for audiobooks!

And now that my brain is mostly healed (although reading for more than 20 minutes is still difficult) but I’m unable to work for pay due to being in the middle of an immigration process, this seems like an excellent time to do a bit of work on myself.

So, I’ve started listening to self-help books, a genre that previously I’ve shied away from with a great deal of hostility. It seemed like a waste of time. What worked for one person surely won’t work for me. That’s true. A lot of what I’m reading in these books is garbage advice, for me at least. However, I’m still walking away with some great lessons and insights that I can apply to me.

Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist has a lot more religion that I’d like in any book, but even as an eye-rolling atheist, I was able to get over all the god talk. A lot of what she wrote about actually really resonated with me.

In this book, the author discusses her journey from being an overwhelmed, anxious and too busy writer to living a more quiet and meaningful life where she’s at peace. Sounds pretty much exactly like the journey I was hoping to make before life forced me to just stop.

It’s not really a how-to, but rather a collection of stories of how difficult it was to change her mindset, to say no to work and yes to a healthier life, and to become okay with stillness. This format leaves the reader a lot of space to learn their own lessons from her experiences.

Although she doesn’t specifically talk a lot about mental health, there’s a lot for anxious creatives to learn from her. Specifically, through her stories I got a better idea of which projects I want to accept and which I’d rather pass on. I learned that quiet and stillness are things you can learn to embrace and love. And, most importantly, I learned that I can change me life. It’s just going to be fucking hard.

Present Over Perfect is available as an audiobook (I listened free on Hoopla using my library card) so you can get through it while making art!

Here’s what I did while listening:

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